It seems that all of Concordia is in the midst of construction and renovation lately. Knutson and Anderson saw their massive overhaul a couple years ago. The Jake is being re-done with artificial turf and new parking lots. The science complex of Jones and Ivers have just announced their plans for a dramatic change of face in the coming years. And to accommodate the new Offutt School of Business, the Grant center will be getting a facelift as a new learning space. Yet there is one painfully obvious, glaring oversight in all of these plans. Where is our concert hall?
That’s right. We need a concert hall. Whether you like it or not, you attend a school that prides itself on its performing arts, particularly its music program. Whether you’ve never been to a concert, or if you’ve played in every single one since you were admitted, you should recognize this requirement. Somehow this necessity has been overlooked. The Concordia Band celebrated its hundredth anniversary last year, and the Concordia Choir and Dr. Claussen remain one of the largest promoters of the college locally, nationally, and internationally. During this time the college has ignored the need for a true performing space, and instead all our ensembles continue to play on the gym floor. To put it in perspective, the last time I had a concert in a gym was in elementary school, and I certainly wasn’t putting up five figures every year to do so. It follows the same logic as making the football team practice in DS. Sure there’s room, but there’s something off about it.
Last year, Professor Russ Peterson performed a recital to celebrate his newest CD in Christiansen Recital Hall (the music department’s largest performance-oriented space) and the room was entirely full. It was literally standing room only, and to accommodate the audience they had to put chairs on stage behind the performers. This is not the conduct of a school that respects the needs of its students and faculty. Try leading a tour for a prospective student who is interested in music and tell them that we have no performance space, except for the volleyball court they just walked through. How are we, as a school, supposed to compete for the most talented musicians when we cannot provide a place to perform?
I understand that such a project would be expensive. I understand that it would require space that we currently don’t have. What I don’t understand is that throughout Concordia’s history this need hasn’t been addressed. What I don’t understand is that in the midst of all of the plans and renovations flying about campus, there is not even a whisper of concert hall development, save on the lips of Cobber performers asking “What about us? How much longer will we have to wait?”
Concordia is in a group of schools in the region that is continually competing for the top music students. To get the best musicians, and assemble the best program, we have to offer the best resources for those students. As of yet, we can’t even challenge other schools in that category because, instead of vying for the nicest concert hall, we have none at all. If you were a chemistry major, you wouldn’t go to a school without labs, would you?
I’ll be the first to admit that we do have a strong music program that is able to offer a lot to its students. But without a concert hall, the department will continue to be incomplete.
How much longer will we have to wait to see this in development? Certainly 100 years should have been enough time to put things in motion. For Concordia to be the best that it can, this has to happen – a concert hall as another ruby jewel in Concordia’s crown